STATIONERY AND GIFT STORE
Words: Karen Hare / Photos: Janine Kropla
It is cold, one of the first real winter days of the season. By the sting on my skin I am quickly reminded just how bitter it gets here in Winnipeg. 217; the brass numbers are laid in the Tyndall stone on the step. Inside it is warm, a young woman is shifting things over inch by inch, rearranging them by seemingly minuscule movements. But each object has a perfect place and order, each one defining its own boundary, each one a piece of the whole. The goods lay upon warm walnut furniture, setting a backdrop for each inviting print, pattern and lovely message. This perfect combination of neutral undertones and coloured detail allow the space to feel fresh and modern but almost sweet and spicy, like a pumpkin pie. You can see the value of home here, in every object, in each of their places.
Soon we are sitting over coffee, open and genuine Danika and Drex (and even their adorable dog Sammy) almost seem to exude the characteristics of their shop; it is as if each of the objects in the space popped out of the tops of their heads like confetti. They are charming to say the least. I notice now that I hadn’t even asked how they met. I can only assume it’s because they seem to have always existed together.
Danika Bock grew up in Winnipeg and holds a diploma in graphic design from Red River College. Drex Serduletz grew up in Kenora, where his mother runs a screen printing business, allowing him to gather skills almost inherently and make an easy transition into a position at Martha Street Studio, where such attained skills continued to flourish here in Winnipeg. Living in Berlin and travelling abroad, both Danika and Drex began discovering tiny things and found themselves asking one big question ‘why are these things not accessible in Winnipeg?’ So, it was only natural that through the love of special things and the gathering of them, Tiny Feast was born upon their return home. A curious name now makes complete sense. It is as if they have prepared a meal for us. Warm and welcoming, this gift they’ve brought home is very special, earmarked with a pretzel for a pencil.
The concept is simply this,
Very small, minute, petite
A large meal, typically a celebratory one.
A plentiful supply of something enjoyable.
There are certain things in our lives that are more than just things. Maybe it is an irreplaceable tee shirt, a mug that fits just right in your hands or a pair of sewing scissors that you can hear perfection in each incision. These things exceed their objectivity by creating a moment. Danika and Drex define these moments as a tiny feast. Seemingly ordinary and functional but exceedingly special they are everyday indulgences, small moments of celebration between you and this tiny thing, because a really perfect pen can be cause for internal joyeaux; a little thing to spoil yourself on a regular basis.
The shop itself stocks items from stationery to house wares from international sources including but not limited to North America, Germany, The Netherlands, South Africa, Korea and Japan. Already a long labour of love, Danika and Drex pride themselves on knowing many of the artists and artisans personally, hand choosing each item and forging new relationships along the way. And so, after adventure, cultivation, and admittedly a few too many frozen dinners, they are both home and at home, right here in our Winnipeg exchange district.
Muddy Water: You said you were living in Berlin; what brought you there and what brought you home?
Danika: We had been talking about spending some time traveling for a while, and decided to do so before we had any huge commitments or responsibilities in Winnipeg; no mortgage, no kids, etc. With German grandparents myself, I grew up speaking German and had been to Germany before and loved it. Drex has always been interested in languages and had taken some German classes. Berlin is such an accessible, affordable, creative city, so we chose it as our home base.
Leaving Winnipeg proved to be a great opportunity for us to really shape what we wanted to do when we returned home. We figured that opening a shop which strictly sold specialty stationery would be too much of a niche market in a smaller city like Winnipeg. It was really nice for us to see shops in cities like Berlin, Amsterdam and Copenhagen whose offerings spanned seamlessly from stationery and workspace supplies into home wares like textiles, art prints, ceramics and gifts. We were continually checking to see which of our favourite companies were being stocked in Winnipeg, and when we realized that most of them could not be found in the city, we got really excited about the potential to open a really unique shop in Winnipeg.
Coming back home was always part of the plan; we love spending time with family and friends too much to move away indefinitely. It's been a pleasure to truly take ownership of what we're doing here; it's so encouraging to see others doing the same. Whether buying houses, starting families, or opening businesses, it feels like there are a lot of young people who are choosing to commit to Winnipeg and are taking the time to make it a more dynamic, exciting, enjoyable place.
MW: You have been incredibly enthusiastic about the specialness of a pen; what pen are you writing with these days?
Danika: My go to pen at the moment is our Midori brass ballpoint pen. It checks a lot of boxes for me: compact in size, writes smoothly, and has a nice weight; made of brass and wood it's a real looker, too!
Drex: My favourite pen is the Caran D'Ache ballpoint pen. It's a matte-black aluminum, hexagonal barrel ballpoint pen. The metal barrel gives it the tiniest bit of extra heft, which makes it feel good and sturdy in your hand.
MW: I think that there is something so delightful about the perfect greeting card. Can you think of any memorable cards you have received?
Drex: A couple years ago, Danika gave me a card with a letterpress printed illustration of pencil shavings–I loved it! When we opened the shop it was at the top of the list of specific products to track down!
Danika: There's something so pleasant about receiving a nice card. It's the epitome of a "tiny feast"- beautiful, celebratory and engaging, yet simple. And while I'd happily frame any beautifully designed card, I'm a sucker for what's inside, too. Rather than having Hallmark say it for you, I prefer cards that are blank inside. I always pre-write my thoughts, edit and re-work them before committing to the message to ink. Any card that's been thoughtfully filled out is worth hanging on to.
MW: You had mentioned that you two are often homebodies. Did that play a role in what you chose to sell and / or how you chose to display them?
Danika: Absolutely. We're drawn to products we like to surround ourselves with. Having a comfortable, nice home is a priority for us. It's always been part of our vision for the shop to have a space that is inviting and comfortable, and filled with things that people can take into their home and make their own. A (small) part of me has always liked the idea of owning a bed and breakfast. While I don't think it would be charming to host someone for 24 hours a day, I do like the opportunity to have a space that people can interact with, feel at home in, and experience. To have strictly an online store would be a lot easier - definitely - but it was important for us to exist as a brick-and-mortar shop.
MW: So… how did you two meet?
Danika: A mutual friend of ours mentioned to each of us on separate occasions (over a year before we met) that we should meet - "you guys would love each other!" she predicted- and she was right.
Drex moved to Winnipeg from Kenora, and lived down the street from me in a house where I knew a few of his roommates. I would watch him skateboard by my apartment's kitchen window and swoon. Long story short – I was the one to pursue him, and after embarrassing myself horribly first, we were set up on a double date with our roommates. Like two teenagers in the back of a minivan, we made awkward small talk, that eventually turned into a real conversation, which ended up with us spending hours playing darts in his porch and eventually led to a second date. And many more after that!
MW: What is your favourite ‘tiny feast’ at the moment?
Danika: Pizza nights with our family...
No, but really – a huge glass of wine.
No, but seriously – We've often described a "tiny feast" as a little treat or treasure, but it's also a way to describe a small moment that brightens your day. Witnessing people in the shop and overhearing them delight in our products is our favourite tiny feast these days. While traveling, we were constantly the ones exploring, ooh-ing and ah-ing over neat, interesting things. It's such a pleasure to see people interact with the space we've created and delight in the things we've carefully chosen to bring into the shop. People chuckling at cards, telling us that we stock their favourite pencil or notebook, and saying they're excited to go do homework – those are our tiny feasts right now!
MW: Any plans on featuring some of your own work in your shop in the future?
Drex: Yes! The hope is that we'll be able to carve out some free time in the new year to work on our own designs and create a line of letterpress-printed stationery. We're excited to experiment with printing, product design, and explore potential collaborations in the future.
For more Tiny Feast, you can visit them at 217 McDermot Avenue or www.tinyfeast.com.